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Sam Smith - Gloria (Album Review)

Monday, 06 February 2023 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Michael Bailey Gates

Cast your mind back into the mists of time. It's the early 2010s and a new singer-songwriter is bestriding the pop charts like a latter day Cliff Richard. Their singing voice is tender, distinctive and utterly ubiquitous, and a host of blue chip musical collaborations appear to be lining up to blast them into the pop stratosphere.

It now seems odd to group John Newman and Sam Smith together, but it’s hard to understate how similar they seemed at the time. Smith has become a global star—a Grammy, Oscar and Brit Award winner with a slew of number one hits. Newman has not seen such plaudits and, to his immense credit, has spoken openly about how his career led to depression. 

It is hard to thrive in a pop landscape that can be truly unforgiving, meaning that each new release carries with it a sense of trepidation.

With that in mind, how does one interpret ‘Gloria’, Smith’s fourth album? Well, it’s decent. The tracks hit their marks and Smith’s syrupy vocals perform as well as they ever have.

Club banger ‘I’m Not Here to Make Friends’ is produced by Calvin Harris, and features Jessie Reyez on backing vocals. It is one of the strongest moments, delivering a shoutalong chorus that will play long into the night, from the dancehalls of London to San Francisco.

Unholy is the other standout, and if you haven’t heard it yet, that probably means you’ve avoided public radio these past few months. Featuring Kim Petras, the track is a squirty, raunchy bopper, snaking its way through the sticky dancefloors of nightclubs and the cars of teenagers driving into town for a night on the tiles. 

But, equally, there are missteps on this album. The closing duet with Ed Sheeran is one of them and another is the ecclesiastical title track, a beautiful confection that falls victim to some wretched overproduction, resulting in Smith sounding Auto-Tuned. Some producers really need to know when to leave a recording alone, but the song will likely deliver a stirring effect in a live setting.

Given where we started and where Smith is now, ‘Gloria’ is a success and will sustain their commercial and creative viability at the top table for another five years. Rightly or wrongly at this point, they are a bit of a pop icon—a mainstay of commercial music on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘Gloria’ doesn’t really break new ground but, equally, it doesn’t trash the platform Smith has built, which isn’t nothing. It's just that the circle has turned and now Lewis Capaldi is the one to beat.

Sam Smith Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed April 12 2023 - SHEFFIELD Sheffield Arena
Fri April 14 2023 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Sat April 15 2023 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Tue April 18 2023 - LONDON O2 Arena
Wed April 19 2023 - LONDON O2 Arena
Sat April 22 2023 - GLASGOW OVO Hydro
Tue April 25 2023 - BIRMINGHAM Resorts World Arena
Wed May 24 2023 - MANCHESTER AO Arena

Compare & Buy Sam Smith Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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